Technology Trends

Beyond Nano and Biotech: Step into the Future Factory!

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Catalysts and new specialized reactors will also be required for gas to liquid conversion, because, like it or not, hydrocarbon fuels are an effective way of carrying energy.

The transport and automobile industry will be placing challenging requirements on new materials to reduce weight and yet maintain strength and integrity. Already there are changes to vehicles in switching materials from steel to aluminum for lightweighting, and this general change may continue. The role of composites to replace steel is especially challenging because of the recycling issue that is referred to earlier. The recovery of energy from what is currently waste heat in both the auto and building sectors will lead to new types of heat pumps and other energy convertors.

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Training

It is clear that there is an urgent need for training people for factories of the future. There have been a number of European initiatives such as the ‘Manufuture program’ and the contrasting situation with the US and Japan has been nicely summarized by Mavrikios et al (2013).

Global trends in this area were collated and analyzed in a paper by Secundo et al (2013). This identified in particular the societal needs of preserving scarce resources, taking account of climate change and reducing poverty.

They also identify the ‘Manufuture program’ and the ‘IMS2020 program’ being conducted by Europe, Japan, Korea, the US and Switzerland, which addresses all of these issues as well as addressing standardization, innovation and the all-important aspect of competence development and education.

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